CONGRESSWOMAN DAVIS DISCUSSES JOBS, HEALTHCARE, AND PROTECTING THE MIDDLE CLASS WITH CONSTITUENTS IN SPRING VALLEY
By Miriam Raftery
August 21, 2011 (Spring Valley) – “What I’ve been working on is jobs and everything that I can do to strengthen the middle class,” Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) told constituents at a meeting of the Spring Valley Citizens Association Thursday evening.
The Congresswoman fielded questions from a audience members reflecting a broad spectrum of views and provided updates from Washington. She also discussed two upcoming events: a home mortgage clinic on August 27 and a boot camp for job seekers August 30. (Get event details.)
“A lot of people are in trouble and they don’t know where to go,” she said of the mortgage seminar, noting that joblessness has led to many people struggling financially. “This is an opportunity to meet with experts.” As for the jobs boot camp, one goal is to “help people reconnet with the job market, if they’ve been out of work for a while.”
In addition to hosting the local events, Rep. Davis pledged to renew her efforts to focus on creating jobs and prosperity in Congress. She expressed frustration with the gridlock in Washington and said she is “skeptical of the super-committee” assigned to tackle the debt reduction issue. “It’s been a rocky road, honestly,” she said of the debt ceiling negotiations process.
“I actually think in the short term we need to do more to create jobs,” said Davis, who wants to see investment in infrastructure, such as building or repairing highways, and public-private partnership to put Americans back to work.
One woman in the audience noted that more than construction jobs are needed. Davis noted that refueling the construction industry also creates jobs for managers, accountants and other white-collar workers as well as putting money back into workers’ pockets to spend on goods and services. She also noted that San Diego has many small businesses in the export business. “We need more of that,” she said.
Several constituents voiced frustration over efforts by Republicans in Congress to slash Medicare and Social Security benefits. A man in the audience objected that consumers used to be able to deduct interest on credit cards, auto loans and other expenditures, but that those have been taken away through the years.
“I can’t afford to go to a fundraiser and pay $2,500 a plate,” he said, noting that wealthy donors fund campaigns for many of the members of Congress who are balking at making the wealthy pay more taxes while taking away benefits for the middle class instead.
Thus far, there has been a partisan divide in Congress on the issue of taxes, with Republicans opposing any new taxes or elimination of tax breaks for wealthy individuals or corporations, who they’ve described as job creators, calling instead for deep cuts in social programs including Social Security and Medicare. Democrats have fought to minimize budget cut impacts on poor and middle class taxpayers, calling for trimming spending on some other programs such as Defense, but also seeking revenue increases to avoid painful cuts.
Davis made clear that more revenues are needed to protect programs like Medicare and Social Security—and that the middle class should not be the ones to be burdened further.
“We need to look at changes in the tax codes. It has to be fair,” she said. “We can’t just let people with good lawyers get away without paying a fair share.” Noting that billionaire Warren Buffet has called for an end to tax breaks that let some wealthy Americans dodge taxes while shipping jobs overseas, Davis added, “We also need to encourage more people who have done well in this economy to do their fair share.”
A retiree in the crowd said, “We haven’t had a cost of living increase in many years, but our water bills, everything is going up.” He faulted the President for “not helping me.” The President has faced Congressional gridlock, with Republicans controlling the house and blocking many of his proposed reforms, while Democrats in control of the Senate have blocked Republican-backed measures.
“I think we all agree that the corporations and the very wealthy should pay more and those on fixed incomes should be taken care of,” a man in the audience said. No one disagreed.
Another constituent said Congress should forego pay raises. Davis noted that “We’ve turned down raises” and that her staff has been cut as well.
An audience member challenged Davis to give everyone the same level of healthcare that members of Congress have. Davis replied that “federal employees have a smorgasboard of benefits and that is what will be hopefully done in the states,” she said of the federal healthcare reforms.
Another constituent objected to the government requiring people to buy healthcare (albeit on a sliding scale based on income) if they are uninsured. Davis noted that many young people think they don’t need insurance. But she observed, “Who pays if they get in an accident? We all do.”
The Congresswoman said the federal healthcare reforms enacted under the Obama administration will “make healthcare more accessible for women” particularly. “In some states, if you’re insured under a private policy they won’t cover pregnancy or delivery,” she stated. Davis reiterated her support for protecting women’s health, noting that she authored a bill, now law, to require that insurers allow a woman coverage to see an obstetrician/gynecologist.
She also talked about support for medical research locally. “I’m a big supporter of the biotech communities trying to research and bring new treatments and cures to market,” she said, noting that San Diego has received many federal grants for this.
She voiced support for creating more green jobs and supporting “incubator industries”, noting that San Diego is emerging as a leader in green technologies. She also urged people to support “made in America” by striving to purchase U.S.-made products.
Davis, the ranking chair of the Military Personnel Committee in the House of Representatives, also talked about the need to help returning veterans by creating jobs for them. She noted her leadership in passing the new G.I. bill recently enacted into law, which gives every military veteran a scholarship for continuing education.
“Unlike after World War II, they can now pass it onto a family member,” she concluded. She added that while just 1 percent of Americans serve in the military, families of military members “have made sacrifices, too.”